Revision…it’s the pits

Last night was Ali’s big thesis critique, and judging from her blog I think she thinks it didn’t go so well.

So I think that maybe I didn’t get something across that I meant to.

She put a lot of work into those revisions–the new stuff was obvious. It was thougtful. It was a new slant. There were new angles and glances. That’s what revision is for. I think it was Helen Sellers in Chapter by Chapter who said something along the lines that revision it to re-vision, to re-see what you’ve got. Ali saw something different, something extra for her work and put it on the page. Whether it works or not, well, that’s not really the point. It’s about seeing what works best. That’s the point. And sometimes we’ve gotta do it a few times before it hits.

I’ve got the same thing in FJR. I thought I was doing one thing, I was hoping to get it across. Not everyone got it, and I overdid some things, but I do have something there and need to keep chisling away until the whole story comes out. Kinda like King’s archeology analogy in On Writing–every new piece helps explain the whole. Dig out the dinosaur man, dig it.

After Ali left to avoid the weather that was annoying all of us, (stupid snow!), Deb, Shane, and I talked about the Round Story that’s going on in the other group. Here’s an interesting situation where there’s nine different authors, nine different visions of how things should go. Deb said she wondered how much of what the writers thought was in there was actually there versus what was just in their heads, and I think that’s a consistant problem whether there’s one author or nine.

That’s why writing is considered a process. If you’re not willing to do the ‘work’ (that’s the creation of draft after draft….) then you shouldn’t be writing. If you’re not willing to make the best story possible–whether it’s what you originally envisioned or not–then put down the pen. You’re not gonna get it. Eventually, with enough practice, I believe that you learn the techniques that help you get it closer with your first swing…but then you’re gonna have to swing again, no matter how good you get.

Luckily, I write with some really amazing people who understand the purposes of drafting. Ali showed me that last night (or, I guess in the month I was reading her stuff up until last night). Even though I told her to cut a lot of things, I believe that those things had to be written, there was no way around it. Through the pages, the worlds became more real. Maybe it wasn’t what she wanted to hear (because we all want to hear: “It’s perfect! You’re done!”) but I think she did a really good job and think she’s on the right track.

And ignore Juan.

Ali Attitude Deb Revision Round Story Writing Problems

jenny maloney View All →

Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Yeah, that dreaded moment in a critique when you realize that you never said your protagonist is blond and tall so no one gets why everyone calls him Swede even though his last name is Valdez.And, of course, you’re right about having to write the stuff that’s only going to be cut later, because it’s in writing those words that we get to the keepers. Frustrating and fascinating at the same time.Good luck to all who are in the middle of revisions.

  2. Thanks for the cheerleading, Jenny 🙂 Don’t worry, I’m not too bummed about the critique – just a little annoyed with myself because I should have trusted myself more in this project. It’ll all work out eventually.

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